Excerpts from a trip to South America

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Jaleh Olson is a senior at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. She studies microbiology and hopes to pursue a career in international medicine. Last year a research fellowship took Olson to Prague, Czech Republic, but currently she is studying in Quito, Ecuador. Her travel blog can be read at: http://www.jalehspillowbook.blogspot.com.

Observer Contributor
All photos by Jaleh Olson
Nov. 29, 2007

Day two in Mompiche, Ecuador
“…we hiked to an expansive, remote beach. We splashed around in the waves, tried to body surf, and became salty and windblown. We ate a picnic

lunch of tuna with bread. (The Ecuadorian canned Tuna is quite tasty, especially as it doesn’t contain mayonnaise which seems to me the most putrid of condiments.) A very pregnant female dog approached us warily, trying to sneak tuna scraps. The poor thing even lapped up the sand on which we had poured out the tuna oil. We fed it some crackers and bread scraps, which were in no wise sufficient for a living being to be satisfied. When we returned…I met three darling little girls Eli, Ani, and Maria, (9, 7 and 3 years old respectively)…I took photos of them and they grew even more excited, searching out new places and new poses in order to be photographed again and again. They of course also insisted on viewing each photo after it was taken, so they were running back and forth; the littlest of them somewhat lost in the mad dashes, but determined to keep up with her older friends.”

Arrival in Cartagena, Colombia

“We arrived in the airport at midnight, chilled from that freezing air conditioning, which is characteristic of airplanes. But as we stepped off the plane we were comforted by the warm, humid Colombian coastal air of which we had dreamed for two weeks.

As we drove to the hotel we passed through flooded streets of neighborhoods…so endearing compared to those of Quito. I could actually see children playing safely in the streets during the day, and imagined as we passed cozy families asleep in their beds. The major road then passed between the Caribbean and a fortress wall which was lit up brightly by the nightlife of the colonial district on the other side of the wall. The ocean appeared to never end. Unlike in Oregon where the fog limits one’s vision, these waters seemed endless… unlimited even by the darkness, as if the ocean was tilted forward slightly to facilitate our seeing further.”

Day two in Cartagena, Colombia

“The second night I didn’t go to the (baile folklorico) show. It was too insulting. I instead spent the time with Alex (a Chilean friend), drawing pictures in the sand and chatting about solving the world’s problems.

Our solution to U.S./Cuba’s age-old, and sadly time-honored, dilemma: a diplomatic rendes-vouz in Cartagena so that our very sharp George W. and dearest Fidel could share a long walk on the beach, get their hair braided, and enjoy alcohol-free piña coladas. People must not know there is such goodness and happiness in the world if they are so dull-witted as to prolong their own problems. This applies as much to countries as it does to individuals. Alex and I stayed up all night teaching each other things (subjects spanning from history to microbiology to religion), becoming very good friends and watching the red sunrise.”

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